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Stephen Jones for Ralph & Russo

 
Jo-Anne Rolf, Vintage Designs

Jo-Anne Rolf is a Riverina based Milliner with a totally unique outlook when crating her headpieces and lives happily in her dream world of more a romantic era.

“These days, a hat is not an everyday purchase, so I really enjoy creating something that is both elegant and desirable and made in the old fashioned way. I find the whole millinery process totally consuming. It is a complete love affair with vintage materials, old style millinery processes and relearning techniques that would otherwise be lost in this day and age”.

Jo has been a recent recipient of Awards in both Millinery and Textiles as well a s Hat Life Hatty Award in 2012. As part of the 2011 Melbourne Cup Celebrations, Jo was invited to create one of her beautiful Victorian Riding Hats for the prestigious national Gallery of Australia to sit alongside their own Philip Treacy Retrospective.

Also a supporter of the Creative Arts, Jo collaborates in High Fashion photos shoots and films with Melbourne Stylist, Lynette Pater and is an Associate producer of the Sci-Fi “Queen of the Bees” an independent Space Tourist Film from Melbourne.

 

Recently a Tutor at the International Millinery Forum 2014 in Wagga Wagga, Jo continues to teach and lecture on the finer points of Vintage Milliner at Vintage Fairs and Shows.

Jo lives and works in rural Australia.

Q

What lead you to Millinery in 2006 and what was your previous occupation?

A

I have a background in Hospitality and worked in the hotel restaurant Industry in Melbourne, then later as a lavender farmer in NSW making Essential Oil and skin products. It was the combination of the drought and another child leaving home that enabled me to focus on something that had interested me for a long time, which was “How to make a hat?”.

Q

Has the fondness of childhood memories cultivated your career to inspire you?

A

I have always been fascinated wit the mysteries and wonders surrounding old stuff. Old wooden table tops worn smooth from use, biscuit tins filled with my Nan's Patty Pan cakes, my Aunties hand me down books from their childhood, music from the 1930 and 40s courtesy of my Father and old family snapshots in black and white. All that and more, I am still collecting memorabilia.

Q

Vintage is your trademark, is it the precision of old school methods you love or just the overall aspect?

A.

Vintage Millinery Techniques is my main interest. In this age of technology I love the idea of using my hands to create something beautiful. It is a yearning to return to the old techniques of Millinery. To learn those aspects and keep them alive, to create a hat from scratch, to follow directions from an old pattern book and to master that medium is very satisfying.

Q

Vintage can be tricky not to look dated, how do you keep your looks Vintage yet so clean and tailored?

A

To make a new hat today and make it look as if it came from a particular moment in time and your Nan's closet is a complex process. It is a combination of understanding of European, American and Australian history and social customs of the time realising it is not just a fashion template but rather a snapshot of the past.

I am also a great believer in letting the hat shape of that time or genre, speak for itself, that “less is best” when it comes to trimming and I am more inclined to remove something rather than add it on. It has been a massive learning curve and eight years down the track I am still studying. The more I learn the more I realise that I have so much more to discover.

Q

Were your dreams growing up always related to fashion?

A

I think it was my dream to be a Princess, maybe Sleeping Beauty and wear ball gowns and tiaras, even a breakfast. I studied art history at school and my interests continued to grow to encompass my 100 year old farm house full of books, music from the 1030s, old hats and clothes.

Q

Who are your icons and why?

A

Love Schiaparelli from the late 20s through to the early 50s and Christian Dior of the 40s and 50s for so many reasons..... style, grace, imagination and innovation. This was such an amazing time in history for fashion as we know it today. I also love Stephen Jones and John Galliano for those exact same reasons.

Q

What is your creative process in making hats, do you start with sketching?? Do you have something in mind or does it create itself. What are your favourite shapes, trims etc?

A

I love working with other creative people, working to a specific brief and bringing an idea to its final conclusion. I find it difficult to create anything without a specific purpose in mind. My ideas are continually bouncing around in my head so I also like to follow my own heart and create iconic classic shapes from all the eras from 1840 through to 1960. Sometimes my ideas take a little time to gel in my mind to the point where I can tackle a project and create it from scratch, especially when learning a specific vintage shape such as an 1840s bonnet or a Wellington Top Hat.

Q

You are a huge supporter of the Burlesque community, please give us insight into the culture and how hats have such an important role.

A

I am currently a supporter of Miss Pinup Australia, a national competition which inspires women of all ages and sizes to celebrate their inner beauty through their love of vintage glamour. The issue of building self esteem is a very important one for me as there are so many negative stereotypes prevailing for women today, especially within social media. Hats do feature quite a lot in this genre as in original times, the wearing of headwear for day wear and social occasions was the norm.

Q

Who do you love to see wearing your hats?

My clients appreciate the classic lines and my headwear. They know how to rock a particular vintage style and I love tat they can wear my designs with such panache. I am always thrilled to death when they send me a pic of themselves wearing their Vintage Design Creation.

Click Here to be directed to Jo-Anne Rolf, Vintage Designs

 
Felicity Northeast Millinery More to come

 
Stephen Jones and the Grammar of Hats by C Column

Colin McDowell sits down with Stephen Jones, one of the world’s most celebrated and radical milliners, to discuss the business of making hats.

Stephen Jones | Photo: Jermaine Francis for BoF

LONDON, United Kingdom — Stephen Jones has enjoyed an extraordinary career creating some of the world’s most exciting and eccentric hats, but the milliner is, by far, most proud of his work for the storied house of Dior, where he was first invited to work in the autumn of 1996 by John Galliano, then the creative director. “Even now,” Stephen admits, “every time I climb that grey staircase lined with photographs of Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich, I feel that I am in the holy of holies — the epicentre of the fashion industry — and I find that very moving. There is nowhere in the fashion world more sacred than that fabled staircase.”

“A hat in a collection by, say, Jean Paul Gaultier or Marc Jacobs, must look right for their [respective] creative approach, but also a little unexpected. In one sense, the hat is an exclamation mark; in another, a full stop. In my head, there is a grammar to it.”

Stephen had created hats for the London-based house of John Galliano since 1993, but, still, he was surprised when the couturier informed him that he was moving to Paris to work for Givenchyand wanted Stephen to collaborate with him on the hats for his couture collections. As it turned out, Galliano was at Givenchy for only a very short time, producing two couture and two ready-to-wear collections, before he was given the plum job of design director of Christian Dior and, again, asked Stephen to move with him. Both were former students at Central Saint Martins and had known each other on the London club scene. But it was Stephen who, at the time, had more experience working internationally, having collaborated since the late-1970s with several of the world’s top designers, including Jean Paul Gaultier, AzzedineAlaïa, Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler.

Now, sitting in his office at the back of his tiny but exciting shop in London’s Great Queen Street, near Long Acre (a name that appeals immensely to his sense of humour), it is easy to see why Stephen Jones works so well with others. He has charm and considerable wit, laughs easily and is highly literate. From his appearance, you might imagine that he is a figure of the establishment, but, in truth, he is much more radical.

‘Sleepy-Head’ from Stephen Jones’ A/W 2014 | Source: Stephen Jones

Stephen was born in 1957 in the North of England to middle class parents who, “although not rolling in money,” had enough for his grandfather to indulge his expensive taste for American cars from the 1940s. His family had no connections to fashion, but Stephen feels that if it wasn’t for World War II, his father would have probably taken up art or design. “His exercise book margins were full of beautiful drawings.” Whilst he was still at school, Stephen’s parents moved south and he soon followed, having gained a place on the fashion course at Central Saint Martins, as “one of the two token males in my year.” Of course, he love being there, even though he very much disliked his course director: “She hated me and it was mutual. I mean she was wearing Kenzo in 1976 — bang in the middle of Punk!”

Stephen was much more drawn to women with the relentless determination of Rei Kawakubo who, as he says, “has this ever-fresh wackiness and is not afraid of any part of the body. I find that so refreshing and exciting.” Luckily, he found the same boldness in two of his school tutors: Bobby Hilson and Shirley Hex. In particular, Hex turned out to be a true catalyst for Stephen’s creativity when he enrolled in her millinery course and soon realised that he had found his metier.

In 1979, Stephen left college with very little money and took a series of day jobs (even working as a truck driver), while making hats and trying to set up his own business in the evenings and on weekends. At the same time, he was partying all night on a regular basis. His world consisted of Roxy Music, Punk Rock and the Blitz Club, where he made a gold skullcap mask for Steve Strange, the resident DJ.

A year later, the owners of PX, a cutting-edge New Romantic boutique in London’s Covent Garden, allowed him to use their basement as a showroom in exchange for a very small percentage on his turnover. For the opening, he made 30 hats and threw a party attended by everyone from Andrew Logan to Molie Parkin, who shocked Stephen’s parents by appearing in a transparent dress. And while success did not come overnight, the opening was a major step forward. But it was Michael Roberts at Tatler and Joan Burstein and Robert Forrest at Browns — “my blessed triumvirate” — who Stephen says gave him the most support. “They are the ones who really started me off,” he recalls.

The first of Stephen’s many fashion collaborations was with Zandra Rhodes in 1983. “It changes with every designer, of course. Each one has his own vision and the milliner must feel confident enough in his role to be able to empathise. I tell you, one of the absolute characteristics a milliner requires is being a very good listener. And that does not mean emails. It means face-to-face. That’s why I seem to be always in a plane. You chat and gossip, then you get down to talking about hats and it’s a good stimulating time because you feel you know each other. I carry a sketchbook everywhere and, on the plane, I start to draw. My job is to take the designer’s aesthetic and my aesthetic, combine the two and make something to put on the head! A hat in a collection by, say, Jean Paul Gaultier or Marc Jacobs, must look right for their [respective] creative approach, but also a little unexpected. In one sense, the hat is an exclamation mark; in another, a full stop. In my head, there is a grammar to it…”

‘Sketch’ from Stephen Jones A/W 2014 | Source: Stephen Jones

Alongside his collaborations, Stephen has his own brand, producing two collections of couture millinery and two diffusion collections (under the label Miss Jones) each year. Stephen also has a strong private client base, whom he provides with hats for weddings (especially royal ones, where hats are still de rigeur) and a number of events on the Jewish social calendar, which also features many occasions, religious and secular, to which hats are worn. “Jewish ladies pass my hats around the family,” says Stephen. “And eventually, they come back to be re-trimmed, ready for a new life.” But it is horse racing that really pays the rent: Ascot, The Kentucky Derby, Dubai, Hong Kong and Melbourne. “All big meetings and very dressy, which means new hats.”

To meet demand, Stephen has an atelier of 15 permanent workers, with others drafted in at peak times. He always sketches his ideas and often makes toiles out of tissue paper or actual buckram and pins to evolve a shape or a special form of decoration. “As I seem to travel all the time,” he says, “I have a book of the collection which I take with me and I draw every possible permutation of the original idea, often transforming it. When I am working with designers, things are going back and forth all the time; we swap ideas over the phone, and it is normally only two weeks before the show that we start making. And I can accept last minute changes. With Marc Jacobs, the decision is made and rarely changed; with John [Galliano] things could change radically very near the show. But I did not care. Working with him was millinery nirvana.”

Thank you to Business of Fashion BoF for this amazing article.  Click Here.

 
ANISS by A Mott

I am so excited to bring an interview to you of the Millinery Award 2014 ANISS, her work in new, innovative yet using organic fabrics as well as modern mediums and bringing the wearable art to a new level. There are so many 'Hatmakers' and 'Milliers' about these days and such a variety, I really like to search further and where the craft can be taken. ANISS has stood out in all the right ways for the right reasons. As I say, I am not a milliner, just a lover of the craft, but I am looking to help consumers sift through what their needs are for headwear, it is more than racing. I would love to see a modern bride wearing an adornment of ANISS's work on her head. Congratulations again to you ANISS, your hat was a stand out winning and you were a very deserving winner.

 

 

Where does your artistic background stem from and were you first interested in hats?

I am coming from a family which are all engineers. I was quite a shock to the family when I decided to go to a fine art high school. I studied Graphic Design and Visual Communication at University, and had the opportunity to participate in sculpture studios, drama classes and do collaborations with other artists. In recent years my main focus was on discovering the hidden self and the mysterious character within. Whilst creating an art series in 2008 comprised entirely of masks and headpieces made of black vinyl I realised the potential for my character making and my sewing skills to come together. I produced a series of masks and 2009 and completed my millinery course in Ultimo Technical College to hone my technical skills.

As a Child did you ever see yourself in this industry?

From the day one of the summer holidays I always was busy gluing or sewing something. As a child I wanted to be a Judge and then a pilot, but I think the love of using my hands and passion for creation took over my future.

Can you explain the feeling when making the incredible pieces made out of wood and shaping them?

The timber series captures a sense of lightness being in balance and with a certain structural integrity. It's something like a powerful delicacy. I was trying to capture this beauty that we encounter in a very delicate thinking that you're afraid of touching, like a butterfly's wing.

This material had certain engineering limitations and complexities, which took time to comprehend and resolve. I developed a series of apparatus for reinforcing the material as I secured it to the hat block. I used a combination of pins and stitches to hold the timber from collapsing. I even had to insert certain splints to strengthen the vulnerable weak points. The whole process was reminiscent of a medical operation, and the mending of the wounds. Once the piece had dried, I removed the stitches, meticulously sanded the whole item and that was it. I was keen not to hide the raw material because I had a certain pride in the cleanness of the whole structure. There was nothing to cover up.

How does it feel to be asked by celebrities to wear your hats?

I use an opportunity like this as a medium for pushing boundaries and exploring a concept. On average those pieces take over 100 hours each, but we consider it an investment into our design thinking and our future aesthetic.

Winning the most coveted prize in Millinery and to be recognised by peers must be amazing, can you please elaborate?

I feel fortunate to win the judges favour. Being recognized amongst all these great milliners who have been in the business for years was so rewarding and I have a great respect for all who put so much effort in their signature pieces on the day.

Your work is so distinctive, you are also making jewellery and dresses, can you explain which started first and where you see yourself in the future?

The jewellery and dresses are my secondary pursuits. I always take an idea to it furthest point of development possible. My headwear and masks are the primary focus, however if a project can be improved through alternative means I never shy away from a challenge.

Do you have any new surprises in the future and are you looking to work with new fabric or materials?

I have been working on felt collection for the Winter Season to be featured in the Myer Beautiful Girls Lunch. They explore the forms of feathers using a felt medium.

Who is the girl behind ANISS?

My background is Persian and the second of three sisters. Out of 18 cousins I am the only non-engineer. I was the one who used to craft their school projects, or stitch a top on them in the staircase on the way to an event. I am notorious for cutting parts off dresses straight from the shop and customising my purchases. I have lived in London for a number of stints, and Iran and whilst I loved all the places I've resided, Australia is truly unique place and country I am proud to call home.

Currently our studio hat the atmosphere of an art studio and the activity of an industrial factory, so we mostly meet people elsewhere. All our items and contact can be sourced at my website www.aniss.com.au or my email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and the story progresses from there.

Thank you very much Aniss for this glimpse into your life and sharing your emotions and feelings with Racing Fashion readers. I hope this gives better understanding of the person you are and makes people more comfortable to approach you for that special hat that you may need for any occasion. Racing Fashion Highly Recommends Aniss.


 
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